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Chung Kan: 3D artist interview

By 3dtotal staff

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Date Added: 23rd July 2015

Blizzard Entertainment lead senior artist Chung Kan shares some of his portfolio and discusses his work, inspirations and career so far...



Chung Kan is a Lead/Senior Artist in the Cinematic Character Modeling dept at Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher founded in 1991. The company originally concentrated primarily on the creation of game ports for other studios, before beginning development of their own software in 1993. Before long, Blizzard Entertainment shipped their breakthrough hit Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. After this, Blizzard went on to create several successful video games, including the Warcraft sequels, StarCraft, and Diablo series. Chung Kan has been with Blizzard for over 10 years now working on pre-rendered cinematics for the successful sequels such as: Starcraft, Diablo, World of Warcraft and Overwatch. From this interview, you will gain an insight into Chung Kan, his career and top pieces of work as a Cinematic artist.

3dtotal: Hi Chung, thank you for agreeing to do an interview with 3DTotal's website! Firstly, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your background as a cinematic artist? Where did it all begin?

Chung Kan: Growing up, I was always interested in drawing/painting and always had aspirations to do something art related as a career. I initially wanted to become a 2D animator with hopes on working on Saturday morning cartoons but one day I got introduced to 3D by one of my teachers and found my true passion in 3D art; I've been at it ever since!

During my last years in college, I was fortunate enough to land an internship at a small local game company and was able to gain valuable production experience. After that I moved around to different game studios and eventually landed at my current position in Blizzard Cinematics helping to create their amazing pre-rendered Cinematics.

WoW: Wrath of the Lich King Cinematic. I worked on the model, sculpt and textures for the dragon Sindragosa.
©Blizzard Entertainment

3dt: After studying at The University of California for 5 years and achieving a B.A. in Studio Arts, how did you find the transition to concept art?

CK: At the time when I attended, the art program at UC Irvine
was tailored more toward the fine arts realm; which did help somewhat by teaching more of the fundamentals of art theory, but not so much on the actual craft of art fundamentals and digital animation. I had to attend workshops outside of my standard college courses, as well as a lot of self-learning in order to hone my studies in 3D digital art to prepare my portfolio for future employment.

This is just some personal work of a drone bust. It was created in 3ds Max and rendered in V-Ray.

3dt: You've done freelance work with some well-known companies, such as Cinematico. Which of the companies has been your favorite to work with and why? Have you found any which were particularly challenging when compared to each other?

CK: All the companies I've worked for so far all have their pros and cons, each with their own challenges (some more so than others!), but each one definitely has made an impact to some degree that brings on fond memories. I will say my favorite place so far would be my current position at Blizzard. Being able to work with such talented individuals with such great projects on a daily basis is a great inspiration.

WoW: Cataclysm Cinematic. I helped with some of the modeling, sculpting and textures for Deathwing.
©Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch Cinematic. I worked on the model and sculpt for the Reaper. ©Blizzard Entertainment

3dt: As a 3D game grtist you did a lot of work for Reflexive Entertainment, which included Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II and Lion heart, could you tell us a little about your work you did there?

CK: As a 3D game artist on those projects, I helped create both real-time character and environment assets with modeling and texturing. One of the benefits of working at a smaller game studio is the opportunity to wear a lot of hats and experience other disciplines in the pipeline. I was able to create both character and environment assets as well as help create Fx, logos, game icons, props, weapons, etc.

WoW: Mists of Pandaria Cinematic. Helped texture the orc. ©Blizzard Entertainment

3dt: Much of your work specifically focuses on the sculpt and textures for characters. Is sculpt and texture something you have always been exclusively interested in?

CK: Nowadays, my professional focus is mainly on the character modeling and sculpting end. When I was first learning, I didn't really know better, so I was trying to learn everything about 3D from modeling, animation to even rigging. That mentality has definitely changed. Throughout the years at the various studios I've been lucky enough to have worked for, I was able to either have personally experienced or see first-hand all facets of the production pipeline for both real-time games and pre-rendered cinematics. With all that exposure, it has led my passion more toward character creation work from a modeling/sculpting and texturing standpoint.

This is just some personal work of a drone bust. It was created in 3dsmax and rendered in Keyshot

3dt: Do you have any favorite software, techniques or processes that you use and would consider your signature style?

CK: I first started learning 3D with 3dsmax and I still use it today. Because of that long term exposure with it, I would say it's probably my current preferred 3D package. However, I do end up using a lot of other 3D packages depending on what task needs to be done. For example, I'll use XSI for LOD creation, Maya for blendshape creation, ZBrush for relaxing UV's, Mudbox for displacement map extraction, Marvelous Designer for cloth creation, etc. I'm all about getting the best tool for the job. I wouldn't say I have any particular signature style, but just pretty much whatever gets me to my end goal in the most efficient way possible.

WoW: Warlords of Draenor Cinematic. I worked on the model, sculpt and facial blendshapes for the Orc, Guldan.
©Blizzard Entertainment

3dt: Are there any other areas within the digital arts industry that you would like to branch into (and why)?

CK: I've always been interested in the process of how the final frame gets put together. I definitely have interest on the side of lighting and compositing. There is just something special about how at the end of the pipeline process where all the elements are put together for the final piece of what the audience will see.

Diablo 3 Cinematics. I helped texture Tyreal Angel. ©Blizzard Entertainment

3dt: As a successful figure in the digital arts industry, if you could give future digital artists one piece of advice on working in the industry, what would it be?

CK: Focus on the fundamentals first from traditional arts like drawing, painting, sculpting, etc. Having a strong art foundation will only make you a better digital artist. 3D applications and all those fancy complex softwares are just tools just like a pencil or paintbrush which only just helps convey your artistic creations. 3D, in general, is very broad with many disciplines in the pipeline from modeling, texturing, animation, lighting, rendering, compositing, fx, etc. Don't spread yourself thin by trying to learn everything, definitely explore them all to see what suits you best, but focus on just one or two disciplines, especially if you're interested in film or cinematics work. Most positions are separated out into their respective specialties.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Cinematic. Helped model Malthael. ©Blizzard Entertainment

3dt: Finally, thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in our interview!

Related links

Have a look at more of Chung's awesome work at his blog
Check out the fantastic 3ds Max Projects for a detailed look at using 3ds Max
If you want an up-to-date look at what's going on in the 3D world then why not subscribe to 3dcreative
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